Kokila was having a really bad day. She had tossed and turned all night, thinking about her big meeting of the day, with the result that she was feeling irritable and had the aura of a migraine in the making. It was her biggest chance today to make an impression on the investors and get some funding to oil the wheels and move her vehicle along the path of progress.
She was a social entrepreneur – she didn’t call herself that. She called herself a helper – she wanted to do her bit to help people. She didn’t have to look far to find the senior citizens belonging to the seedy locality near her home. Some of them were really sick with old-age diseases but most of them were healthy enough. They didn’t have anybody to take care of them – it was a boon if their busy sons or daughters gave them food to eat – where was the money for doctors and expensive medicines? Kokila had started with the really sick people – she had roped in a couple of her doctor friends to visit once a week, so that they could be diagnosed. She had then made a list of medicines required and visited all the apartments in her society, asking for cash or kind. This process was now streamlined on a monthly basis to take care of medical needs.
She then took a small makeshift room with an asbestos roof and shoddy plumbing, on rent and called it the community centre. Every morning between 11 am and 1 pm and even evening, between 4 pm and 7pm, she was there with the senior citizens. It was tough getting them to come over and took a lot of persuasion. But Kokila possessed enough charm and sincerity to win them over. She had some dailies in the vernacular languages as well as English, some magazines and a small library, with 5 or 6 magnifying glasses. strewn about. The adults used this time to read and catch up with others.
She now wanted to do more – she wanted the makeshift small room that she used as the community hall to be made into a pucca room. She wanted to engage her wards with something other than books and newspapers – she wanted to teach them skills like painting, pottery and woodwork so that they could attempt to earn again. She wanted to introduce singing and dance, yoga and meditation. She wanted to start a small day care so that the young and the old could benefit from each other. Her brain was buzzing with ideas but her purse was empty.
Today, her friend, Hina had set up a meeting with the business magnate, Mr. Nath. He was coming over to visit her centre – although he was known to be charitable, he would donate to causes only where he could benefit too. Kokila had worked out the math to show how she would be able to use his investment to give him a ‘good samaritan’ tag and later on, maybe actually generate returns. She had worked hard on her presentation. However, the sleepless night and the peeking headache were not helping her confidence at all.
Hina had come over half an hour before Mr Nath was due, in order to lend moral support. She found a stumbling, stammering and panicking Kokila, who was sure that she would bungle the whole meeting. Hina knew just what to do. She sat Kokila down and went into the tiny kitchenette and brewed a strong, sweet cup of strong Indian masala chai with lashings of ginger and cinnamon and cardamom and cloves. Kokila took her cup and wrapped both her hands around it to take the warmth. The first sip was pure bliss – every sip after calmed her down and banished her doubts and the headache. She finished her cup and looked up at Hina with tears of gratitude. Her situation had not changed but she felt a lot more confident.
Oh – and yes – she got the investment. It is wonderful, the change that a cup of tea can make in our lives.